You may not know much about Saudi cuisine, but after trying this dish, I bet you’ll want to find out more!
Kabsa is what many consider to be Saudi Arabia’s national dish and it is definitely one you should try. It is a rice dish, like many Middle Eastern dishes and – just like most Middle Eastern dishes – every family makes their own variation of it. Today I am going to show you a very basic version of Kabsa with chicken. It is also commonly made with chunks of lamb or goat and may have additional vegetables, such as shredded carrots.
This dish is incredibly flavourful as the rice and chicken are cooked in an aromatic broth scented with several spices, including Lumi, or dried limes. This is what gives Kabsa its signature tangy and fragrant taste, quite unique to this dish. Make sure to poke some holes in the Lumi before tossing them in the pot to make sure you get the most flavour possible out of them. Kabsa’s ingredients are pretty basic, and what makes the dish delicious is the spice blend used. Many Middle Eastern shops sell a Kabsa spice blend, but if you can’t find it, you can make your own blend using ground cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, dried limes, red chili flakes, cumin, black pepper and coriander.
I love the fact that this dish is a one pot wonder and requires minimal work to achieve such rich and bold flavours. You can keep the chicken as is after boiling it, but I highly recommend popping it in the oven to allow the skin to crisp up. Serve it with a finely chopped salad, yogurt, or the traditional Saudi spicy sauce. Don’t forget to squeeze the Lumi over your plate to give your taste buds an unforgettable experience!
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 2 ½ tbsp tomato paste
- 1 ½ cinnamon stick
- 2 Lumi (dried limes)
- 10 cardamom pods
- 10 black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- 5 cloves
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 2-3 tbsp Kabsa spice mix
- 1 chicken
- 2 cups Basmati rice (not soaked)
- In a large pot, heat the butter and sauté the onions until soft. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook on low heat. After cooking the onions and tomatoes for a few minutes, add in the tomato paste and continue to cook on low heat. Add the ground spices and cook for about 2-3 minutes before adding the whole spices.
- Add the chicken to the tomato mixture and make sure all the pieces are coated. Add enough water to cover the chicken, cover and cook for about 30-45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Continue to check the water level and top up as needed, making sure the chicken is always covered.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, place on a baking tray to be roasted before serving.
- Taste the broth after you’ve removed the chicken and add salt, pepper, and Kabsa spice to taste. You should over season the broth, as the rice will absorb most of the flavour.
- Add the rice and stir. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover the rice. If there is too much liquid, remove some with a ladle.
- Lower the heat to the lowest setting and leave until the rice is fully cooked, fluffing occasionally.
- Serve with the roasted chicken and a side of yogurt, finely chopped salad, or the traditional Saudi spicy salad. Enjoy!